Androgen insensitivity syndrome: clinical features and molecular defects

Hormones (Athens). 2008 Jul-Sep;7(3):217-29. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.1201.


The end-organ resistance to androgens has been designated as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), an X-linked disorder caused by mutations in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. It is generally accepted that defects in the AR gene prevent the normal development of both internal and external genital structures in 46,XY individuals, causing a variety of phenotypes ranging from male infertility to completely normal female external genitalia. Precise diagnosis requires clinical, hormonal and molecular investigation and is of great importance for appropriate gender assignment and management in general. The complexity of phenotypic presentation of AIS with genotype-phenotype variability of identical mutations complicates both the diagnostic procedure and genetic counseling of the affected families. More than 400 different AR gene mutations have thus far been reported but the receptor structure-function relationship and its phenotypic outcome is not yet fully understood. This review focuses on the clinical features and molecular pathophysiology of AIS and explores the relationship of the molecular defects in the AR gene to their clinical expression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / genetics
  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / metabolism
  • Androgen-Insensitivity Syndrome / therapy
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genotype
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • AR protein, human
  • Hormones
  • Receptors, Androgen